Northwest Youth Corps worker Ryan Hood of Grants Pass helps carve out a new loop trail at the top of Prescott Park. The trail will connect with a new challenge course on the Peak overlooking Medford. - Bob Pennell

Are you up for it?

While Prescott Park has more than two times the acreage of all of Medford's other parks combined, its remote, hilltop location means it gets only a tiny fraction of the others' visitors.

But a city "challenge course" of ropes, swings and obstacles may bring more life to the 1,740-acre park that sits atop Roxy Ann Peak on the eastern edge of Medford.

Almost hidden in the trees near the peak are a series of wires and obstacles that will become part of Medford's new challenge course. Parks officials say the pay-to-play course is part of an effort to get more use out of the park.

A massive swing will allow participants to hover 40 feet above the ground while taking in views of the valley. Or they can sail through the air attached to a zip line.

The so-called "Junk Yard," suspended between two ponderosa pines, will test participants' strength as they grapple up ropes, then old tires and struggle past a simulated rock wall before arriving in a tree-top nest some 100 feet above the ground.

"I don't know if I could do it, but I want to try," said Pete Young, a planner for the Medford Parks and Recreation Department.

More than a dozen installations are being tucked into the trees in Prescott Park, barely visible from the gravel road that leads to the park.

The course, scheduled for a late-August opening, is near a Civilian Conservation Corps-built bathroom and small parking lot on the peak's west side.

Zip lines, a catwalk and ground-level obstacles are being built under a $50,000 contract with Synergo, a Portland company that has built four challenge courses in Oregon.

Under a separate $6,000 contract, the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps is building a loop trail that will connect the installations. The trail is being built to mountain-bike standards.

While the features will be clearly visible to visitors, they won't be readily available to anyone passing by. They are designed to be inaccessible unless a staff member is present.

The city is working on a fee structure and booking system, hoping to attract visitors from a variety of sources, including corporate outings, church groups and schools.

A van will transport visitors from a parking area to the challenge course. The upper part of Prescott Park is typically not accessible by vehicle for the general public.

Anyone using the installations will be on a tether, and a supervisor will be on hand to prevent mishaps. The city is also making sure the course is heavily insured, according to Rich Rosenthal, recreation superintendent for Medford parks.

In other areas, a day session for 10 people costs between $600 and $1,200.

Young said the challenge course is one of many long-range projects envisioned for Prescott Park.

A challenge course was proposed in parks planning in 2009, and the city issued a request for proposals in 2010.

Young said the course will undergo frequent inspections to ensure the equipment is in good order.

"I think it's going to serve the city of Medford pretty well," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or email

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